Kayla's Kindness Project delivers big gift to Share Medical Center
January 23, 2022
Entering a hospital while suffering from an unknown cause or a serious injury can be scary. A local girl has spent years easing that transition for hundreds of patients.
Alva Middle School student Kayla Leeper is now in her fourth year of spreading cheer to hospital patients. She started 2022 with a special delivery to Share Medical Center in Alva.
Kayla's Kindness Project was one of four recipients of donations to the Alva Bank It program in 2021. In November, Bank It presented her with a check for $7,550.73. She's using that money to make some big donations to improve the lives of hospital patients, like the delivery to Share Medical Center last Monday.
Leeper delivered four 50-inch smart flat-screen TV's to the hospital, and she has ordered phone charging stations to be used in the emergency room and Urgent Care. In addition, she dropped off a supply of small stuffed bears and a stuffed moose as well as patient care packages and items to help entertain young patients. The TV sets will be marked with the Kayla's Kindness logo, thanks to Big Slick personalized wraps.
Share Medical Center CEO Kandice Allen says patients will really enjoy the TV's which will go in hospital rooms. All but one of the patient rooms currently have smaller TV sets that are hard to see from hospital beds. The one room with a big screen is much in demand. Leeper intends to add keyboards later that will give patients the opportunity to do more with the TV's such as playing games.
Share Director of Nursing Regina Wilson says Leeper's care packages for patients are very popular. They contain back scratchers and personal care items like lotion. She said the stuffed bears are a comfort to kids who come into the ER and just want something soft to hold. Leeper also provides items for their toy boxes which are used to distract young patients.
The Bank It program selected Kayla's Kindness Project for their third quarter recipient in 2021. Individuals may make donations through local banks, and the money collected is matched by the banks. Alva State Bank, BancCentral National, Community Bank and Hopeton State Bank all contributed matching funds to the Kayla's Kindness donations.
Leeper's concern for patients took root when she spent time with her Grandpa Johnny at Stephenson Cancer Center where he underwent chemotherapy treatments in 2017. She was around other patients, too, encouraging many with a hug or handshake, a smile or a soft hello.
Leeper officially launched her program in 2018 as a third-grader when she enrolled for her first year in 4-H and needed a project. Through questions asked of patients, friends and family, she developed a list of products for adult and child hospital patients. Personal care items include toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, nail polish, eye masks, ear plugs, back scratchers, stress balls, journals, silly putty, socks and motivational bracelets. All of her gifts are accompanied by handwritten notes with inspirational messages such as "You Got This!" or "Keep Smiling!"
She put together her first 300 care bags in 2018 and delivered them and several new toys to the Stephenson's Cancer Center and Jimmy Everest Children's Hospital. In 2019, Leeper made 400 care bags and collected many toys for children, delivering them to Oklahoma City metro hospitals.
It was in 2019 that Leeper decided to include her hometown hospital, Share Medical Center, in her project. She now provides care bags to SMC as well as adding "Be Brave Boxes" – boxes with toys and goodies for children in the ER and Urgent Care. Leeper keeps in monthly contact with Share's hospital, ER and Urgent Care to keep the goodies and bags in stock.
In February 2020, Kayla's Kindness Project was recognized at the Alva Chamber of Commerce Gala when Leeper was named Youth Entrepreneur of the Year.
In March 2020 when Covid-19 lockdowns began, Leeper had to put her deliveries on hold. Instead, she suggested to Woods County 4-H and Alva 4-H members that they join her in making inspiring cards and pictures for Beadles Nursing Home, Share Convalescent Home and patients at Share Medical Center. These were delivered to a contact person at each facility.
Leeper was honored at the annual Woods County 4-H banquet with the 2021 Darlene Like Community Service Project, and she also medaled in Childcare.
To keep up with her latest projects, follow her on Facebook. Search for Kayla's Kindness Project.
With the help of people in the community and her annual fundraising dinner, Leeper continues to carry out her mission, inspiring hope to scared children and anxious adults – one patient at a time.